September 9, 2019

August Intensive Recap

Each August and January, we offer several weeklong classes called Intensives. This is one way in which low residency students are able to travel to the Bay Area for a short period of time to gain the required high residency credits they need to graduate. It’s always an exciting time around the school; when students and faculty from all over the country join together in multi-religious life and learning. This year, our August Intensives included four courses and ran from August 12-30.

Leadership Along the Way with J. Tyson Casey was a course in which students learn to embody leadership through a variety of ways. Students are taught to check in with the body, as it often knows better than the mind. Professor Tyson leads the class in a way that is also what is being taught; to develop life-regenerating leadership, cultivate Somatic practices, and sharing leadership. Throughout the week, we actively saw ways in which leadership adapts and transforms to the group and ways in which it develops along the way.” – Matthew Waterman, 3rd year M.Div. Student

The second week of intensives was a busy one with two classes happening at the same time: Educating to Counter Oppressions with Dr. Shannon Frediani and Unitarian Universalist Ministerial Leadership with President Rev. Rosemary Bray McNatt. During our Educating to Counter Oppressions (ECO) Core intensive, students work together to form a framework for counter-oppressive spiritual leadership. Drawing on Unitarian Universalist and multi-religious sources, the class explored how in the midst of a world marked by tragedy, sorrow, and injustice, there remains abiding resources of beauty and grace that nourish resistance, offer healing, and call us to accountability and community building. Students also spent one morning with Faithful Fools Street Ministry in San Francisco and participated in a mini-street retreat.

Rev. Rosemary Bray McNatt described this course as “everything I wish someone had taught me in graduate school.” For my money, that’s the basis of a great class. It was organized around her ordination vows: worship, instruction, counsel, administration, and serviceThis class was so many things for me! It was rather like a ministry quilting bee. 

The readings were some of the best I have encountered in any class, not a word too many or a word to few; they became like the backing of the quilt. Prior experiences in churches, protests, other classes, prior conversations, texts, and insights were the pieces that made up the colorful front of the quilt. 

Our in-depth class discussions—in small groups and with all 11 of us—provided the energy and momentum needed to stitch the quilt. Rev. McNatt’s extensive personal, theological, and social justice-oriented reflections, questions, and feedback were the thread itself; what she shared enabled the shape and form of the quilt as a whole to materialize, holding it all together.

I now have a quilt that, while it is not completely finished, I can step back from and understand in a gestalt, holistic way: Okay, this is what we mean when we say “ministry.”” – Lisa Kynvi, 2nd year M.Div. Student

Finally, the Multi-Religious Core intensive with Taya Shere rounded out August Intensives. This intensive focused on embodying multi-religiosity in personal practice, tending multi-religiosity in spiritual leadership and public worship, and engaging multi-religiosity toward countering oppression and cultural (mis)appropriation. The class engaged embodied practice around ancestor reverence and healing – in spiritual lineage and family/blood lineage – as a way of anchoring multi-religious expression, countering oppression, and aligning to blessing.

The 2019-2020 academic year has officially begun! Did you know that you don’t have to be enrolled in one of our degree programs in order to take a class? If you’d like to learn more about our course offerings, click here. Please enjoy the photo gallery from August Intensives below.

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